Defense procurement system prone to security lapses

An electronic procurement system being developed at the Defense Department needs to have better security features before it can be used, according to an October report from the Pentagon's inspector general.

If deployed today, the Defense Procurement Payment System (DPPS) would lack two basic safety measures, said the IG's report on information security. The existing version does not have proper access controls or an adequate contingency plan if the systems feeding it fail.

"Existing weaknesses may lead to unauthorized access by potential users that may result in undetected alteration or misuse," the report said.

DPPS aims to eliminate the Defense Department's need for numerous computer systems that process payments to vendors. The Oracle-based financial system, on which Defense has already spent more than $80 million since the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) took over the project in 1998, will use standardized, sharable data and take advantage of the most recent developments in e-commerce.

But security failures could delay the system's full deployment, now scheduled for September 2003. The report said that DPPS does not comply with the 2000 Government Information Security Reform Act (GISRA), which requires agencies to conduct regular reviews of their security and information practices.

Defense's Program Management Office found that DPPS falls short of the recommended encryption levels and the current passwords do not help protect against hackers or preserve data integrity. DFAS is also lagging behind in testing the system's continuity-of-operations plan, the report said. The continuity plan would ensure continued functioning of the system in emergencies.

To improve the system's security and bring it into compliance with the reform act, DFAS needs to develop standard procedures for obtaining access to the system and complete more tests of the continuity-of-operations plan, the report said. DFAS should also review security documents related to the Defense Corporate Database, which will provide the new payment system with data on contracts, receipts, invoices and funding authorization, the report said.

DFAS agreed with the IG's recommendations.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.